Hunger in AmericaBaylor Barbee
For those that don’t know, which many of us don’t, September is hunger awareness month.
If you’re like me, you probably think that it’s a noble cause, but one that doesn’t affect us in America. Since we’re not in Africa or other third world countries, we’re not overly concerned with Hunger.
I used to think the same thing.
Until I volunteered at Minnie’s Food Pantry last week. Hopefully, my experience can help open your eyes like they did mine.
I’ve had the privilege lately of working with Cheryl Jackson, one of the greatest humanitarians and philanthropists I’ve ever met. Aside from her numerous accomplishments, she has a heart to give. She’s truly hungry to serve.
That’s another story, however, though I was helping with some technical things at the food pantry, I never really “got involved” until last Saturday. Sitting in an office, you understand that there are people that need food, however, when you serve the food, your life changes.
Here we are in the affluent city of Plano, TX, where you would think hunger is the last thing on people’s mind. Boy was I wrong. What I witnessed was HUNDREDS of people in only a few hours on a Saturday morning lining up because they DESPERATELY needed food.
Let me clear a misconception. We think that “hungry” people are those homeless on the streets, in tattered clothes, etc. You’d be surprised how many of them look just like you and me. I even saw some people in nice cars pull up. Economy and recessions hit those folks and changed their lives in a matter of months…something that could happen to any of us.
I brought out 300 bags of chips while people were waiting, thinking to myself “I’ll just put these out incase anyone wants any.” You know how long it took to go through all the bags of chips…. about 37 seconds…. literally. I handed out those little push pops to kids; you know those little candies that you can buy for 50 cents? You would have thought I was handing out hundred dollar bills. I had never seen such genuine smiles on the faces of kids, parents, nor heard so many genuine thank yous in my life.
That’s the thing. These people, our neighbors, were truly thankful for the food, Cheryl, Minnie’s Food pantry, and staff provided. I knew the hunger was there, because there were no egos. There were no “I don’t want this, or I don’t want that.” It was a “I’m thankful for anything and everything you give us.”
(Side note: I always thought “food pantry food” was old food, wrong. Minnie’s gives out the same stuff that we have in our pantries, bought from the same places we buy ours)
The point I’m trying to make here is this. Hunger is Real. Hunger is in America. Hunger is here. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance, your life is affluent enough to where you at least don’t miss a meal. Everyday, I’m privileged to be able to help motivate 1000’s of people across the world.
Do you realize it’s a blessing for us to sit here, read motivational things, and have the “opportunity to make the decision” to better our lives or not? Meanwhile, there are people in our neighborhoods and communities, who don’t have that opportunity to reflect on goals and motivational techniques, because the only thing they are concerned with is how to put food on a table to survive. Right here. Right in our cities.
Heart breaking. But guess what? You can help. There is no reason our neighbors should starve. In a land of opportunity, we shouldn’t have to worry about hunger. But until we realize that it exists in America, we’re not truly creating opportunities for all.
I encourage you to go to your local food bank and volunteer, you’ll not only see what I’m saying, you’ll become more thankful for the situations you face in your life. If you can’t volunteer, you should donate. I used to think, what good would my 20 dollars do with all those hungry people.
At Minnie’s, $5.40 feeds a family of FOUR, for an entire WEEK. You have 5.40 lying around in the cup holder of your car. Why not put food on a table for a week? We’re called in this life to serve, let’s help our neighborhoods, our communities, and our countries. By doing so, we help ourselves.
End Hunger In America.